Canadian Business: The Innovators of BYOD Programs

Canadian Business: The Innovators of BYOD Programs Mandi has written this guest blog entry she calls "Canadian Business: The Innovators of BYOD Programs". The following words belong to her.

When the Bring Your Own Device policy was first introduced, it was met with a lot of criticism. Employees using their own phones was considered to be a waste of time and resources, and furthermore, what about the data? It took a while to catch on, but now, roughly half of the world's companies have implemented a BYOD policy. But why? How could a policy once regarded with suspicion become the biggest recent corporate trend?

First Thing First: How Companies Address Security Concerns

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Image via Flickr by Steven Taschuk

Initially seen as a security risk, the byod program is extremely secure thanks to multiple applications.

With Mobile Device Management, you have the ability to manage all of the devices owned by your employees, but only to a certain extent. You'll be able to sync everything up and keep everyone on the same page. 

With Mobile Application Management, you have much more control over the devices on your network. You'll be able to force the download of applications, track their data usage, require passwords for some applications, monitor who's using the most data, and more. If the device is lost or the employee is no longer with the company, the device can be remotely wiped.

These two management tools can be run together, and even combined with a Virtual Private Network. With a Virtual Private Network, you'll control exactly who is on the network.

If you use a combination of all three, your data will be protected under multiple blankets.

Before implementing a Bring Your Own Device policy, though, it's important to lay out some rules on what the employees can and cannot do on the network. The policies need to be clearly outlined. Some companies must meet certain requirements laid out by various organizations in terms of what data can and cannot be accessed. Even if the device is owned by the employee, the employee must follow the guidelines set forth by the organization.

Greater Flexibility: The Benefits for Employees

One of the biggest benefits of a BYOD policy is that it allows employees to use their own devices. These are devices that the employees likely picked out for a specific reason and have put a lot of time into knowing inside and out. Because of this reason, your company will save hundreds of hours in training sessions.

Not only that, but think about the cost to the company. Before BYOD, companies would have to buy a huge amount of phones, activate them, and get data plans for them. With a BYOD policy, all of that is in the past. The employee will be responsible for the bills. Since the phone is also their personal phone, they'll likely protect it with their life.

Increased Collaboration: The Benefits for Companies

Another huge benefit of a Bring Your Own Device policy is that it has eliminated the need for a central office. Since everything can be synced across multiple devices, your employees can work from any location in the world. This is extremely advantageous, especially if you have an employee that loves to travel, or one that recently relocated that you don't want to get rid of. By using a cloud service, combined with Mobile Device Management, you can have all of your employees working on the same file from different locations around the world. The file could then be stored safely and securely on a cloud server.

This also encourages your employees to work together on certain files. Some cloud services, such as Google Drive, allow you to actually work on spreadsheets, word documents and presentations while they're stored in the cloud. These files can be worked on by multiple users, and every user will see the updates as they happen. You can allow people to access the file but not make any edits, or you can allow everyone access to modify the file. 

In a bonus that will surely please your IT, all technical questions will now rest with the employee. Your IT department will be able to focus on more important things, such as improving the company's network.

Studies have shown that employees that are able to use their own devices at work are happy and more productive. More productivity equals a better running workplace.

With all of the benefits and advancements in security, it's no wonder that almost half of the world's companies have switched to a Bring Your Own Device policy. Canada leads the world's adoption rate with over 75 percent of companies in Canada having a Bring Your Own Device policy. Does your company have a Bring Your Own Device policy?


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Comments (5 - click here to join in!)

Irv

This is an interesting debate and and I understand the point the author is making but I fundamentally disagree with it.

In an age where managers are finally coming to terms with data security (or lack thereof) it's my opinion BYOD is a bad idea. Below is a list why:

- As IT staff do not support the devices, the owner may not fix problems or update them. If they lose a device they've lost THEIR phone & may not immediately notify the company

- Software to remotely manage phones exists but I don't believe it's up to snuff. For competitive reasons firms are reticent on supporting other systems.

- Certain phone platforms are notoriously insecure, especially if they are rooted. Serious exploits are common especially on Android (which just happens to be the most common phone).

- Very recently Santoku Linux was released. Santoku is a distro developed for "analysis, forensics & security testing" on mobile devices. Much like Backtrack or Kali Linux, it can be used for good or for bad.

- Having an uncontrolled & unmanaged device connect directly to a network (including email) is a serious security risk. This is coupled if the user connects to free Wifi. Even a hacker with rudimentary skills can walk into a wireless hotspot & crack the network in less than 15 minutes. They could set up a Man in the Middle attack where they act as the DHCP server & all YOUR data streams through their computer. That may well include your corporate login credentials.

When I see people with phones that connect to their corporate webmail I shudder. In fact I find it eye opening that someone would have corporate webmail with single authentication. That's YOUR active directory credentials getting.

BYOD may save money until one of your executives is socially engineering & their data stolen. They may not even know it's happened. And as for "it giving the time for IT departments to do other important things". I would call data security extremely important.

My 2 cents.

August 22, 2013 @ 2:58 PM

markosaar

I'm not sure how a controlled and managed device connecting to free wi-fi is safer, unless that circumstance is disabled. Try to convince an executive of the value...

August 22, 2013 @ 8:01 PM

Irv

@Markosaar.

The use of unsecured or poorly secured wireless at home or with public hotspots is digital suicide. My professional opinion is that BYOD is an idea that is reckless & puts the integrity of the corporate network at risk.

Unfortunately many firms in the rush to cut costs will take the advice in this article. And one day, they'll be attacked by a black hat or someone engaged in the game of corporate digital espionage. Just because no one talks about it doesn't mean it ain't happening. It is.

Canada = swiss cheese.

August 22, 2013 @ 8:20 PM

markosaar

I guess to me the only solution is to issue a locked-down work phone, and have a separate personal phone.

August 22, 2013 @ 11:31 PM

Irv

I believe the new BB has that capability. It's actually rather impressive as a device though I don't hold out much hope for the firm (sadly). It's too late for them.

August 23, 2013 @ 12:43 AM

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